A sleepy Greek village hidden away on the northern tip of Santorini, Oia is even more beautiful in real life than it is in the photos! Incredible restoration following a devastating earthquake in 1956 means you can still soak up all of the remarkable sights and charm the village has been known for over the decades.
From clandestine beaches and Instagram-worthy photo spots to amazing food and one-of-a-kind artisan stores you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll never be at a loss for things to do in Oia. The small village enjoys a gorgeously mild and sunny climate all year round, making it just as good for a summer vacation as it is for a winter escape.
If you love long walks in nature, meandering streets just waiting to be explored, and experiencing the most dazzling sunsets you’ve ever seen in your life, Oia is the place for you!
With such a great choice of things to see and do, you may not know where to begin. To help you out, we’ve created a list of the top things to do in Oia. Add these activities and attractions to your Oia bucket list, and you’re sure to have a wonderful time exploring one of the most gorgeous parts of Greece.
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The 15 Things to Do In Oia
1. Get Lost in Oia’s Winding Streets
One of the first things you should do in Oia is wander its charismatic streets and see where you end up. Aside from the two squares and main street, most of the village is made up of narrow passageways.
The main street can get very crowded – especially if it’s cruise ship day. So if you want to explore with a bit more space and tranquility, follow the secret streets, alleys, and staircases. You never know for sure where they’ll take you, but chances are it’s somewhere even more beautiful and intriguing!
The southern part of Oia, close to Fira, is one of the best places to wander. Few tourists go here, providing you with a quiet atmosphere that’s perfect for chilling out. It’s also ideal for snapping photos that aren’t full of other people.
Don’t worry about getting truly lost. Oia is pretty small, and if you’re really not sure where you are, there’s always Google Maps!
2. Take Photos of the Famous Blue Domes
The blue domes are one of the most iconic Oia attractions. Snap your own photos of the emblematic landmarks by finding the most stunning domes and their top viewing points.
The best time to shoot is first thing in the morning, just after sunrise. Tour buses and cruise ships begin to arrive around 9 am, and from then on, the areas around the famous blue domes can get very busy.
You’ll find the most spectacular blue domes on top of the church of Agios Spyridonas. This whitewashed church was built into the cliff-face and boasts three eye-catching domes. You can’t see them from the main street, so a lot of people miss out on the opportunity to capture the beautiful shot!
The dome on the Church of Anastaseos is also worthy of a picture. The contrast of the whitewashed buildings, deep blue sea, and strikingly blue domes is something you’ll never want to forget, so snap as many pictures as you can.
3. Dig into Chlorotyri
If you love cheese, one of the must-do things in Oia is to order chlorotyri from a restaurant. This delicacy is a type of cheese made from goat’s milk that’s unlike anything else you’ve had before. It’s wonderfully creamy, slightly sour, and incredibly addictive!
Because only a very small amount of chlorotyri is ever made, you’re very unlikely to find it anywhere outside Santorini. It usually never leaves the island. Thankfully, it’s easy to come across in Oia.
It’s most commonly used as the protein topping for a salad. When chlorotyri is used this way in restaurants, you’ll see the dish labeled as a “Santorini salad.” It’s also served sometimes as an appetizer along with fresh crusty bread. Its smooth texture makes it great for spreading.
One of the best places in Oia to try the delicacy is Red Bicycle. This cute restaurant serves it up as part of their ntakos salad, which also includes juicy cherry tomatoes, salty samphire, and rich olive oil.
4. Find the Perfect Memento at the Atlantis Books
Visiting a bookstore might not sound like it should be on your list of Oia activities, but Atlantis Books isn’t any old bookshop! Located just off the village’s main street, this quaint and quirky bookstore is bursting with thousands of books from all over the world.
As well as in Greek, you’ll also find texts in English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, and Chinese. There’s a fantastic selection of modern fiction and non-fiction, as well as a vast selection of pieces on Greek art, philosophy, and poetry.
Recently, Atlantis Books has also begun to sell collectors’ first editions and rare antiquarian books, making it a fascinating place to visit if you’re interested in old literature.
What really makes the place worth visiting is its unique location. The enchanting bookstore is hidden away in the basement of an old captain’s house that was devastated by an earthquake decades ago.
There are shelves from floor to ceiling loaded with books. If you climb the staircase outside, you’ll discover a rooftop terrace with even more full-to-the-brim bookshelves!
5. Gaze in Awe at the Sunset
Most people who’ve been to Santorini agree that one of the ultimate things to do in Oia is to witness the magnificent sunset. One of the most popular places to watch the natural show in the area is Ammoudi Bay, which is just below Oia.
Because it’s so popular, Ammoudi Bay can be packed during the hours leading up to the sunset. Another fantastic place to watch the special event is Sunset Serenade Point. But, again, because it’s so well-known, it’s also often very busy.
If you’re not a fan of crowds, there are plenty of other places you can go to admire one of the most captivating sights you’ll see in your life.
The closest and most quiet place to watch the sunset in Oia is from the hillside just outside the village. There’s a long, winding staircase from the top of the village that will lead you to a dirt road. Follow it, and you’ll find yourself in the perfect position to watch the sun dip into the horizon away from the crowds.
6. Be Sure of a Great View on a Sunset Wine Tour
Alternately, sign up for a sunset wine tasting tour, and you’ll find yourself enjoying one of the coolest things to do in Oia. It can be really difficult to get table reservations around sunset. So, signing up for a sunset wine tour takes all the hassle and uncertainty off your shoulders!
On the four-hour wine tour, you’ll visit three of the best wineries on the island. You’ll start with a quick pick-up from your hotel and then set off on your adventure to learn about Oia and Santorini’s special viticulture.
During your winery visits, you’ll sample at least 12 different types of wine, including Assyrtiko, Nykteri, and Vinsanto. You’ll also have the chance to take a walk in a volcanic vineyard and explore each winery you visit to see where the wines are bottled and matured.
Just before sunset begins, you’ll settle down at a fabulous lookout point at the final winery. From here, you’ll have an unparalleled view of the sunset.
7. Admire the Church of Panagia Platsani
Santorini is well known for its striking architecture, and the Church of Panagia Platsani is one of the finest examples. Found in the village’s main square, the Greek Orthodox church follows the traditional style and features whitewashed walls, a classic blue dome, and a six-piece bell tower.
Step through the church’s entrance, and you’ll see that it’s even more stunning on the inside than it is on the outside. Here you’ll find complex golden detailing, countless religious items, and typical Greek Orthodox icons.
The Church of Panagia Platsani was originally constructed within the grounds of Oia Castle. But following the major earthquake, it was moved to its current location. As it’s now situated in the main square, Oia Castle now has more stable surroundings and is less likely to be damaged should another natural disaster occur.
If you’re visiting Oia over Greek Orthodox Easter, a stop by the church is an absolute must. During this time of year, lanterns are placed throughout the village, in particular in front of the church. They’re remarkably beautiful around sunset and after dark.
8. Sail across the Caldera
One of the most romantic things to do in Oia is to take a boat trip across the caldera. You’ll find a number of different trips leaving from Ammoudi Bay, with something to cater for every occasion.
Although each boat trip has a different theme and atmosphere, you’ll usually see the same things no matter which you choose. The volcano, lighthouse, hot springs, Indian Rock, beaches, and Mesa Pigadia are some of the highlights included in most tours!
If you’re traveling with your partner, consider a romantic catamaran cruise. This trip is for a maximum of 20 people (that’s a pretty small group for most tours) and includes unlimited cocktails, beer, wine, and soft drinks, as well as a huge barbecue meal. Pick-up and drop-off are included in the price, and you also get to see the sunset.
For a great day out with your friends or family, think about a standard catamaran cruise. This option includes a more basic selection of food and drinks, but it makes up for it by giving you the chance to swim and snorkel. You’ll still get to watch the sunset, too!
9. Savor Rich yet Simple Fava
When you’re feeling a little hungry but you’re not in the mood for a full meal, order fava! As you’d guess, this classic Santorini dish includes fava beans, but there’s much more to it than that.
The fava beans are combined with pureed yellow split peas, creating a wonderfully creamy, comforting dish you won’t be able to get enough of. It’s most often served hot with a drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil. But you’ll also sometimes find it topped with capers and onions.
As the serving size is pretty small, it’s often dished up as an appetizer or a side dish. It usually features on meze menus, and we definitely recommend trying it when you see it. It’s been made in Oia for centuries and is a definitive staple.
The best fava we had in Oia was from Roka. Here you can devour local fava alongside freshly smoked eel, samphire, and caper chutney. The combination sounds a little bizarre, but it tastes amazing!
10. Plunge into the Waters of Ammoudi Bay
One of the most fun things to do in Oia is to jump into the water from the cliffs surrounding Ammoudi Bay. As long as you’re careful and jump as far away from the cliffs as possible, it’s totally safe. But it definitely gives you an adrenaline rush!
You can reach Ammoudi Bay by following the 300-step staircase leading down from Oia. Sadly, due to the sharp rocks, the bay isn’t suitable for lounging around and sunbathing. But it is a great opportunity to test your limits and get your adrenaline pumping.
The water gets surprisingly deep, a very short distance from the cliffs, so you’ve got nothing to worry about. There are various cliffs to jump off along the coastal path leading to the south.
If you’d prefer something a little more laid-back and chilled, visit Ammoudi Bay for a leisurely lunch instead. You’ll find many restaurants dotted along the coastline from where you can watch the cliff jumpers do their thing. We definitely recommend the Ammoudi Fish Tavern, especially if you’re a fan of fresh fish and seafood.
11. Follow the Volcanic Trail from Oia to Fira
For some of the best sights in Oia, hike to the nearby village of Fira. The six-mile trek follows a volcanic trail that borders the edge of the caldera, connecting both villages. Anyone can do it, regardless of your age or fitness level, and it takes around two hours to complete.
If you’re planning on doing the walk in the summer, it’s best to avoid the midday heat. Set off first thing in the morning or the late afternoon for the best conditions. Remember to wear your comfiest walking shoes, take plenty of water with you, and prepare yourself for some of the most breathtaking views you’ve ever seen in your life!
There are two villages you can stop off at along the way if you need a break: Finikia and Imerovigli. But for the majority of your walk, you’ll be completely on your own in an otherworldly landscape created by jagged volcanic scenery.
12. Sip a Glass of Vinsanto Wine
When you need to relax, and you’re wondering what to do in Oia, head to a winery and order a glass of vinsanto wine. This type of wine is one of the most iconic varieties made in Santorini, and the technique used is very strict and specific.
Vinsanto wine is made from grapes that have been harvested late and left to dry in the sun for 12 to 14 days. At least 51% of the grapes used must be the Assyrtiko variety, while the remaining 49% can be a combination of Athiri and Aidani.
After being crushed and fermented, the wine is aged for a minimum of 24 months. It takes a shocking 22 pounds of grapes to make a single bottle of vinsanto wine! And because of that, it’s certainly not cheap – but the price tag is definitely worth it.
We managed to find a few places in Oia that sell the specialty wine. The Oia Vineyart and Domaine Sigalas wineries were the best places to find vinsanto wine when we visited. They had a reliable supply and beautiful surroundings in which to sip and relax.
13. Explore the Remains of Oia Castle
Oia Castle is well known for being one of the best places from which to watch the sunset. But it’s also a fantastic Oia sightseeing opportunity. Also known as Fort Londsa, the ancient complex is all that remains of the 15th-century castle.
The structure was originally built to ward off pirate invaders. Back then, it was also home to the Argyri family, the Venetian rulers of Santorini at the time. After the passage of time and the 1956 earthquake, little is left of what used to be an impressive fortress.
However, that doesn’t mean the place isn’t worth visiting today. One tower, known as the Goulas, is still standing. You can see a small section of the residential part of the tower and a few remaining fragments of walls.
Whatever time of day you visit, Oia Castle always guarantees impressive views. From here, you can see all the caldera and the dramatic archipelago of Santorini.
14. Take a Dip at the Lioyerma Lounge Cafe Pool Bar
Most hotels, and even some guest rooms, in Oia have private swimming pools. But if you’re looking for a change of scenery, spend the day at Lioyerma Lounge Cafe Pool Bar.
Located on the edge of the cliff-face, with fabulous views out to sea, the pool bar is one of the best places to relax and do practically nothing. There’s no entry fee, and all of the sun loungers, tables, and umbrellas are free to use. You can even take a dip in the refreshing pool without paying a cent.
The only catch is that you need to spend a minimum of €10 per person on food and drink to enjoy the place. But with such a fantastic menu laden with tropical cocktails, Greek wines, ice-cold beers, and tons of great food from morning until night, that shouldn’t be a problem at all!
Stay until early evening, and you’ll discover you’re in one of the top places in Oia from which to watch the sunset. And, as everyone essentially has to pay €10 to go there, you won’t be surrounded by hundreds of people.
15. Find the Perfect Gift at Mnemossyne
Mnemossyne is filled with so many beautiful objects that it’s more like an art gallery than a store! This jewelry boutique has a calming, harmonic atmosphere that will leave you feeling cool, calm, and collected, no matter how hot it is outside.
Here you’ll discover a remarkable collection of bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and rings for sale. From simple, minimalist designs to lavish, extravagant styles, whichever type of jewelry you like, you’ll find it for sale here.
Many of the pieces also feature hints of Oia, such as volcanic stones that reflect the surroundings and apatite gemstones that symbolize the ocean. Every single item in the store is handmade, ensuring no two pieces are identical.
As well as the one-of-a-kind jewelry, there’s also a selection of fine artwork and photographs on display, which are also available for sale. The two co-workers take turns running the store. They’re both incredibly friendly and will happily discuss anything and everything with you!
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Oia. What’s your favorite thing to do in Oia?
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